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Field Guide October 1, 2007
 
Field Guide To Moscow: Dolor Recto
 
 

Dolor Recto

Babushka Dezhurnaya

Babushka Dezhurnaya

Distinguishing Features: Permanent scowl; reading glasses; floral-print skirt and headscarf; vehement distrust of any and all persons who enter her building; odor of old kefir.

Habitat: The podyezdy of most upscale Moscow apartment buildings.

Danger if Provoked: Deceptively High. This species of babushka has an uncanny ability to make the lives of those who anger her a living hell. Since it is impossible to tell who or what angers her, all residents and their guests are subject to her rage.

Mortal Weaknesses: Embarrassment when you bring her granddaughter home from Night Flight; paranoia that the building is being taken over by Jews and foreigners.

Comments: Dolor Recto evolved into its own species shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when Moscow residents began to demand stricter feis kontrol for their own apartment buildings. The babushka dezhurnaya spends most of her time watching Latin American soap operas while reading anti-Semitic pamphlets, and the visitor who enters her domain during an important plot development will witness the full wrath of this vicious species. Among the weapons at her disposal are devastating gossip, drafting letters of petty complaint written in Soviet-ese which begin "Respected Residents!" and placing said letters in everyone's mailboxes, and allowing your girlfriend to visit unannounced while you're having an affair with another woman in your apartment.

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